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Schluter System - Contractors don't like using it?

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  • Dec 13th, 2020 6:54 pm
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Deal Addict
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Aug 21, 2008
4176 posts
991 upvotes
West Side GTA

Schluter System - Contractors don't like using it?

I've been having some contractors come over to give me quotes for a bathroom reno (tear down to the studs and rebuild to finish). I want whoever who does this job to use the Schluter system as I think it's a really well built system (willing to pay the premium for it). However, I'm wondering why some contractors say it's unnecessary and are just quoting me to use densshield instead (I know it's cheaper and probably easier to install).

Additionally, I have one contractor quote me that he'll use the Schluter system for the shower base and floor but not the shower wall? I thought it was a whole "system" to work together to prevent water penetration (?). Thoughts on this? As he wants to use denseshield on the wall instead.
21 replies
Deal Addict
Feb 26, 2016
1172 posts
283 upvotes
Vaughan
i used a chinese contractor and they used the schulter kerdi system.
Deal Addict
Nov 18, 2005
4994 posts
1377 upvotes
Kitchener
Did you specify 1/2" Kerdi-Board? That stuff is so easy to cut and install, but its expensive.
Sr. Member
Mar 10, 2004
692 posts
231 upvotes
I think u already answered your own question about the use of densshield.

About the whole system, sure ideally u would do the whole thing with schluter. But i don t see anything wrong with using densshield as long as it is installed properly. I m pretty sure ontario code even allows for moisture resistant drywall. And densshield is definitely a grade above that. Schluter can t be more than 20 years old. Pretty sure cement boards were around before then.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
4135 posts
1690 upvotes
I watched a contractor use kerdi and it was so neat how all the components of the system work with each other, they were also happy how light and easy to use it is compared to other materials

You should definitely push for it if it's what you want
Sr. Member
Jun 26, 2019
959 posts
708 upvotes
"I've been doing this for 20 years and never had any issues!" Seems to be the common response for a lot of more seasoned tilers set in their ways.

That said, even if they say that, most of the ones I've dealt with will install Kerdi without any issues.

Kerdi membrane is pretty cheap, goes on fast and gives you a nice full seal on everything. Walls to tray.

Kerdi the shower + Ditra the floor.

Maybe you're just getting a bunch of stubborn over worked contractors who want to get in and out as fast as possible. Or maybe they are set in their ways. The one guy who said he would do the tray and not the walls, he's probably saving like 30 mins of work? Why not just do the whole shower and then all the penetrations in the walls are better protected. I'd hope he was going to use Kerdi in all the corners to span from the tray a few inches up the walls.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 2, 2012
3684 posts
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KINGSTON,ON
If they don't want to use it, then find someone who does.
Perhaps they are unfamiliar with the system and can't be bothered to learn something new. Frankly, I'd shy away from anyone unwilling to adapt or to learn a new technique.

I've used Schluter membranes, Wediboard, and Custom's Redgard liquid membrane in the past. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and I use them accordingly. I actively sought out the information and studied the techniques required to use the products (and in the case of Wedi, am a certified installer), because I feel I can do a better job for my clients, and I get to sleep better as well.
But that's just me.
Sr. Member
Sep 4, 2006
942 posts
572 upvotes
Ottawa
Yep, bathroom guys don't read instructions, and they learn all the bad habits from whomever they trained under. My guy didn't want to pre-slope under the shower floor membrane. "That's how they do it at work!"... ok, that's great, do it right. Made him do a pre-slope, then membrane, then final slope to drain. Also wanted to use Densheild on the curb. Read the product instructions... and don't forget the fasteners through the membrane! lol
Newbie
Dec 19, 2006
71 posts
17 upvotes
Researched the options and wanted the Schluter system when I renovated both bathrooms a few years back. Went with the contractor that regularly did the work with the system and was knowledgeable about it. I would be cautious about diverting from the system and the wall coverings are part of the whole sealed envelope.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
748 posts
312 upvotes
-=phelan=- wrote: I've been having some contractors come over to give me quotes for a bathroom reno (tear down to the studs and rebuild to finish). I want whoever who does this job to use the Schluter system as I think it's a really well built system (willing to pay the premium for it). However, I'm wondering why some contractors say it's unnecessary and are just quoting me to use densshield instead (I know it's cheaper and probably easier to install).

Additionally, I have one contractor quote me that he'll use the Schluter system for the shower base and floor but not the shower wall? I thought it was a whole "system" to work together to prevent water penetration (?). Thoughts on this? As he wants to use denseshield on the wall instead.
I decided to jump down the rabbit hole and this is what I found.

There's a user on youtube "tilecoach". He has a lot of videos on various Schluter Kerdi installations and initially he was very much behind the Kerdi shower. At one point he used kerdi products exclusively for his showers for 3 years. He's since stopped doing Kerdi showers to manufacture specs, though he still uses the membrane, the underlayments etc. And says the products are good but there are a few issues with the installation and the adhesives that he feels could be better. He would be great just to watch and see the evolution of his opinion about the Kerdi system change and why.

As far as your contractors, tilecoach has videos that address just how difficult the membrane is to build up at seams and corners while keeping the prep plumb for the tile install. It can be done but it's very time consuming for contractors and in his opinion, the tile job doesn't come out as nice as it could.

Jr. Member
Dec 17, 2017
141 posts
79 upvotes
-=phelan=- wrote: I know it's cheaper

Additionally, I have one contractor quote me that he'll use the Schluter system for the shower base and floor but not the shower wall? I thought it was a whole "system" to work together to prevent water penetration (?). Thoughts on this? As he wants to use denseshield on the wall instead.
If you're ok with the price I'm not sure why he wouldn't want to use Kerdi board on the walls. Densehield is cheaper but it's harder to work with than Kerdi board and isn't anywhere near as good, I think. One thing you're paying for with any of the systems is the warranty against leaks. You generally have to install in the approved ways to keep that warranty. So if he wanted to use denseshield for the walls and put Kerdi membrane on top as per the instructions that's one of the approved ways(or was not sure if it still is,) but adds extra cost for no reason in a typical shower.

Personally ask for and get what you want. If you can find someone who uses the Wedi system that's another good option.
Sr. Member
Jan 7, 2006
571 posts
292 upvotes
Toronto
Katedontbreak wrote: I decided to jump down the rabbit hole and this is what I found.

There's a user on youtube "tilecoach". He has a lot of videos on various Schluter Kerdi installations and initially he was very much behind the Kerdi shower. At one point he used kerdi products exclusively for his showers for 3 years. He's since stopped doing Kerdi showers to manufacture specs, though he still uses the membrane, the underlayments etc. And says the products are good but there are a few issues with the installation and the adhesives that he feels could be better. He would be great just to watch and see the evolution of his opinion about the Kerdi system change and why.

As far as your contractors, tilecoach has videos that address just how difficult the membrane is to build up at seams and corners while keeping the prep plumb for the tile install. It can be done but it's very time consuming for contractors and in his opinion, the tile job doesn't come out as nice as it could.

I've diy reno'd 3 showers now, I never bought into Kerdi or similar systems just because of the cost. I just laid a mortar bed, sloped it by pre measuring and drawing the slope lines on the backer boards (use Permabase each time). Two of them, I did paint on water proofing (Aqua Guard) and 1 I did a 40 mil pvc liner. Then tiled on top, used unsanded grout... one of them I used grout sealer, the rest I didn't bother.

None have leaked or showed signs of water damage... oldest one being 7 years old and used daily.

Kerdi looks like it can save time and your back a bit by not having to carry bags of cement (plus mixing and waiting for it to cure) and heavy backer boards, but I'm not doing this for a living so I can take my time.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
748 posts
312 upvotes
-=phelan=- wrote: Is there a big difference between using the Kerdi boards vs Schluter membranes beyond price?

As I got another guy come in today says he'll use the membrane but not the 1/2" boards (probably will use densshield on the back and apply Schluter membrane on top).
Theyre both supposed to work the same. The boards save time.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
748 posts
312 upvotes
Kevin711 wrote: I've diy reno'd 3 showers now, I never bought into Kerdi or similar systems just because of the cost. I just laid a mortar bed, sloped it by pre measuring and drawing the slope lines on the backer boards (use Permabase each time). Two of them, I did paint on water proofing (Aqua Guard) and 1 I did a 40 mil pvc liner. Then tiled on top, used unsanded grout... one of them I used grout sealer, the rest I didn't bother.

None have leaked or showed signs of water damage... oldest one being 7 years old and used daily.

Kerdi looks like it can save time and your back a bit by not having to carry bags of cement (plus mixing and waiting for it to cure) and heavy backer boards, but I'm not doing this for a living so I can take my time.
Lots and lots of controversy over these showers. Both Schluter and Wedi. The membranes seem to be great but it's the seams and pan that if given over a long enough time and enough use and weight, is causing some pause from tile contractors because customers are under the assumption that the shower is forever. But ideally, it looks like a 20 year product, which is still good but maybe not what consumers are expecting because you can get a 20 year shower from much cheaper, older methods and materials. Most people renovate their shower by then anyway because of syle changes and grout preformance- appearance.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
748 posts
312 upvotes
stacksonstacks wrote:
Personally ask for and get what you want. If you can find someone who uses the Wedi system that's another good option.
Huge controversy over this wedi failure. Lots of angry wedi installers commenting that it was the use of a custom built bench, others saying that the bench shouldn't cause a failure like this.

Sr. Member
Dec 9, 2013
608 posts
491 upvotes
Toronto
Could be because there isn't anything wrong with the cement board (redguarded) + shower pan liner system (dry pack) and its way cheaper (cost ~20%-30% of a Schlueter system).

But contractors shouldnt have an issue with more expensive materials as long as customers are willing to pay for it.
Member
Oct 30, 2017
447 posts
298 upvotes
Toronto
Just to add my 2 cents to this thread.. when I was doing bathroom renos in my house I went with Schluter. The contractor didn't care about which system to use - I supplied the materials. Schluter should be easier for them to do than cement board. Just make sure they use the right thinset when taping it.

Sr. Member
Mar 15, 2007
530 posts
114 upvotes
Toronto
When we were renovating our bathrooms I called the local Schluter rep to ask him for recommendations on contractors that have gone through their training. At the time he said they didn’t have such a referral system but that something was in the works, might be worth checking with them now.

Another option is to follow some tile setters on Instagram. They post their work daily it seems and it is very obvious when they are comfortable using that product. If you are in the GTA I’d recommend following the accounts of New Look Tile & Stone and Pars Tile. It’s also great for giving you design ideas.
Sr. Member
Aug 29, 2019
748 posts
312 upvotes
MetalGear wrote: The contractor didn't care about which system to use - I supplied the materials. Schluter should be easier for them to do than cement board. Just make sure they use the right thinset when taping it.

The part in bold is apparently untrue. Schluter was designed for the home owner to do it themselves. Basically, you're unlikely to do as good of a job as a professional tiler and wont have an issue with tile results that don't come out looking 100% professional. However, this isn't so when asking contractors to do it, customers are expecting a perfect tile job. What they're saying is that it's hard to get a nice looking tile job on top of different layers of kerdi fabric. They have to level the whole system before applying the membrane, then they have to compensate the thinset to deal with multiple levels of membrane at the seams and corners and around drains. This is more time consuming and they're not so sure it will last as long as a traditionally built shower. You saw the Wedi failure up top, if Wedi and Schluter decide not to honor a warranty for whatever reason, the contractor is still responsible for their own personal warranty on the installation. Essentially a lot of tilers were using methods that worked perfectly fine for a lot longer than Kerdi or Wedi and may be hesitant to install a product that they don't 100% believe in yet. The tilecoach guy has been installing Schluter for over 10 years and even he's not 100% on it.

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